The Notre Dame chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), in collaboration with Access-ABLE club, held the first-ever “Love Your Brain” event last Friday by the Clarke Memorial Fountain.
Coordinators handed out black and white bandanas with images of brains provided that read, “I love my brain.” Participants filled in the blank with a word describing their brain and then color their bandana with sharpies. The bandana was dipped in rubbing alcohol to blend the colors, symbolizing the beautiful messiness of our brains.
Senior Lauren Ward, co-president of SPS, spearheaded Love Your Brain with the goal of raising awareness for mental health struggles and traumatic brain injury.
“The idea is, even if your brain is messy, it’s still beautiful and it’s still worthy of love,” Ward said.
Seeing her mental health and that of her classmates struggle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it being Mental Health Awareness Week, Ward believed the timing was right for the event.
Junior Colin Pifer, co-vice president of SPS, said his friend experienced a traumatic brain injury after an accident and still suffers from it.
“All our brains are messy and unique, and we just need to recognize that and reflect that within the bandanas,” Pifer said.
Access-ABLE, which supports students with disabilities, is coordinating the event with the Society of Physics.
Senior Emily Eagle, student advisory council representative for Access-ABLE, said Ward reached out to her and asked if she would like to partner with SPS for Love Your Brain.
“[We are] just wanting to work to fight against the stigma that might exist surrounding mental illness,” Eagle said.
Eagle hopes students feel empowered by the event, whether they have a mental illness themselves or are a supporter of those who struggle.
All students are invited to the table to color a bandana at Love Your Brain and are encouraged to wear them as a reminder to appreciate their brains.
Senior Sierra Weyhmiller, co-president of SPS, said the organization took a special interest in mental health awareness because there is a high proportion of physicists who struggle with mental health.
“We wanted to keep it open to the community because it’s a problem that a lot of people face from all different walks of life,” Weyhmiller said.
Pifer said he hopes the event will be an opportunity for people to express themselves artistically without the pressure of being graded.
It has been approximately six months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Ward said the six-month marker is always difficult in times of hardship, so she hopes students are reminded through Love Your Brain to give their minds rest and love.
“I just want [the student body] to kind of take a minute to appreciate how strong they’ve all been getting through this very, very crazy situation we’re in,” Ward said.
Article originally appeared in The Observer on Friday, October 9